Not everyone is a convenient drive from their friends and family. Some of us have to travel far and wide to get some quality time with the ones we love most. And not that we mind, it is most certainly worth it, but when you are traveling with a baby or toddler, let’s be real – everything gets a little more complicated. I want to help. I have flown a handful of times with my little one already, and here are some things that have worked, and some that haven’t. Try them out:
8 Tips for Flying With a Toddler
- Bring toys. But not just any toys. Bring toys that they absolutely love, that you hid from them for a few days. This means your child will be so excited about the toy they missed so dearly the past couple of days, that they forget to have a mental break down on the plane. #ParentWin
- Check your bags. Even if you are like me, someone who is convinced you can travel with only a carry-on, don’t do it. It’s just not even worth it. Paying the extra $25 is worth having a free hand. Basically, having less distractions means you can provide more for your child.
- Any snacks and drinks you thought you’d need, double it. Anything can happen. For example, a pouch full of applesauce could easily get squeezed out all over your little one’s outfit when trying to settle into your lap, so you will need another one (and baby wipes, god bless baby wipes). Bring more snacks than you think, and bring a variety. You want to be well-equipped for any type of toddler mood that gets thrown at you.
- If you are breastfeeding, keep breastfeeding. I am saying this because this was the only thing that helped my daughter’s ears pop when the pressure was building in the plane. If this out of the question, a straw cup will do, but I promise you breastfeeding was my saving grace on our first plane ride. Either way, be prepared to have some sort of cup for them to suck through so they can pop their ears, or else you will hear the tantrum of a lifetime. I can’t blame them, first plane rides are scary for anyone, but at least adults know what’s happening, a baby just trusts you to take care of everything.
- Be prepared to try everything as a distraction. Our routine when boarding is get a plastic cup from the flight attendant before buckling in. She loves them, and I love that she is distracted by them for 30+ minutes. Take what you can get. If you notice them take interest in something, let it ride as long as possible. Once the plastic cup got old, one flight attendant gave her a bag of pretzels so she could scrunch up the plastic and hear the noise. I wish every flight attendant was as nice as her…
- I hate that I am saying this, but sometimes technology can be your friend. I really hate giving my daughter my phone to play with, but you better believe if the difference is between meltdown and no meltdown on a small plane, I’ll let her press a few buttons. Download a baby app ahead of time, for emergency uses only.
- Sometimes your child just won’t have it. Any of it. I ran into this when flying about two months ago. We did a night flight. Big mistake. I learned from that. Messing with my daughter’s bedtime is a big no-no. A morning flight was the way to go for us, that way she could nap it off later. The night flight was basically the flight from hell. None of the above suggestions worked, so the meltdown ensued. From there, you just have to sit there and smile. You will get dirty looks from people that make you feel like you are the worst, and you know what? F*ck them. You are doing the best you can, so they can suck it.
- Bottom line: The more you travel, the more comfortable they get. Our girl does a lot better with driving, but we won’t do more than 10 hours in the car, so my side of the family is out of the question – we have to fly. It’s imperative that I learn how to make my little girl comfortable with it. I’m pretty much open to trying anything, but so far these things have worked the best.